Two Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke

Translated by Frauke Regan


The leaves are falling, falling from afar,
as if in heaven distant gardens wilted;
they fall with gestures of negation.

At night the heavy earth in somber evocation
falls into solitude from every star.

We all do fall. This hand here falls,
and look at others: it is inherent in them all.

And yet, there’s Someone who forestalls
in infinitely tender hands each fall.


Archaic torso of Apollo

We never knew his audacious head
in which the eyeballs ripened. But
his torso still glows like a candelabra
in which his gaze, merely turned down low,

still lingers and gleams. Otherwise the downward
curving breast could not dazzle you, nor would a slight
turn of the loins educe a smile upon encountering
that central point where begetting begins.

Otherwise this stone would stand disfigured and
abridged below the shoulders’ transparent plunge
and would not shimmer like the pelts of carnivores;

and would not burst from all its confining borders
like a star: for there is not a single point
that does not see you. You must change your life.

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About the Author

Frauke Regan is editing a translation of Brautbriefe by Moses Mendelssohn (1936, Schocken Verlag).